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HomeAstronomy & AstrophysicsAstronomyFor the past eight years, a celestial explosion has been shedding new...

For the past eight years, a celestial explosion has been shedding new light on the life of stars

Despite the fact that the supernova known as 2014C occurred eight years ago, scientists are still studying and learning from its aftereffect. The very faintly visible explosion has been circled in red in the illustration. Credit: Sloan Digital Sky Survey

Since it was first detected eight years ago, a mystery star explosion has been evolving under the watchful eyes of astronomers from around the world.

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As a result of these findings, astronomers now have a better grasp on how massive stars—giants many times the size of the sun—live and die.

A team from the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Chicago published the findings in The Astrophysical Journal.

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Astronomers noticed a bright light in the sky in 2014, which was a definite indicator that a star had burst into flames.

The light an exploding star emits varies fast over time, so scientists all across the globe begin tracking it with telescopes as soon as it is discovered. Scientists may derive the system’s physical features by tracking its evolution with telescopes that can view visible light as well as X-rays, radio waves, and infrared light.

Scientists have categorised these exploding stars by doing this numerous times. The 2014C event resembled a Type Ib supernova, thus its designation. When the greatest known stars in the cosmos die, these are the results.

In fact, scientists believe that 2014C may have been the result of two separate stars orbiting each other. The outer layer of hydrogen was sucked away by the more massive star as it grew and developed. An enormous explosion was triggered when it ran out of fuel and its core collapsed.

It had been observed in the first 500 days following the explosion that it was generating more X-rays over time, which was rare and only seen in a very limited percentage of supernovae. Vikram Dwarkadas, an astronomy and astrophysics research professor at the University of Chicago, said the results “suggested that the shockwave was interacting with dense material.

New and old data on 2014C were gathered and analysed by the team in order to build a complete picture of what happened on the star over the course of the past eight years.

There was a noticeable rise and fall in X-ray emissions, infrared light, and radio waves. According to data from UT Austin’s Hobby-Eberly Telescope, the optical light appeared to be stable. In contrast to the optical light, the radio signal revealed that the shockwave was growing at a far slower rate.

Astronomers speculated that a thick cloud of gas around the two stars may be to blame for their strange behaviour.

There was a 67-million-mile-per-hour shockwave created by the star’s explosion that radiated in all directions. The shockwave’s behaviour would be influenced by the cloud’s shape as it approached.

This cloud is assumed to be spherical and symmetrical in the simplest model. It’s possible, though, that the shockwave would be slowed down if the cloud had taken on the shape of a “donut” around the two stars, which would show up in optical light as slower-moving material. Radio waves show the shockwave rushing ahead in the thinner sections. As Dwarkadas suggested, think of a rock in the middle of a river.

In spite of this unevenness, scientists believe that it could explain the different speeds of shockwaves detected by the wavelengths.

In a larger sense, the study shed light on how these stars evolved, and in particular how much mass was lost from these systems, the scientists said.

“In a broad sense, the question of how massive stars lose their mass was the big scientific question we were pursuing,” UT Austin professor and team member J. Craig Wheeler said. “How much mass is there in this object? ” Where is this? It was ejected at what time? In what way does this happen physically? That was what we were focusing on in terms of the big picture.

As a single event, 2014C served as a powerful illustration of the process.

University of Texas at Austin researcher Benjamin Thomas was the primary author of the study. A second University of Chicago alumnus, Yerong Xu, SM’20, who is now a professor at the University of Palermo in Italy, also contributed to the paper. See the paper for a complete list of collaborators and telescopes.

More information: Benjamin P. Thomas et al, Seven Years of SN 2014C: a Multi-Wavelength Synthesis of an Extraordinary Supernova. arXiv:2203.12747v1 [astro-ph.HE], arxiv.org/abs/2203.12747 https://doi.org/10.48550/arXiv.2203.12747

Journal information: Astrophysical Journal

Source: University of Chicago

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